Lawmakers plan housing law changes

Associated Press

A panel studying Nevada's foreclosure crisis wants the 2009 Legislature to enact housing-related laws ranging from fines for illegal real estate practices to new protections for renters.

The panel chaired by Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, will seek laws that increase the maximum fine for escrow agency violations from $500 to $10,000; require mortgage brokers to post bonds or carry liability insurance; and demand Nevada licenses or registration for out-of-state mortgage servicers.

Other proposals advanced by the study subcommittee would establish a victims' fund for consumers "victimized" by mortgage lenders, brokers or agents, similar to existing recovery funds for Nevada contractors and real estate licensees.

Also among the proposals are measures establishing that a mortgage broker has a fiduciary duty to a client; and giving the state Division of Mortgage Lending the authority to order its licensees to pay restitution to consumers.

Other bills would require landlords to tell potential tenants if the property for rent has a notice of default against it. Homeowners also would have to post a notice of default and a notice of sale at the affected property, and they'd have to display that notice onsite as long as the foreclosure process was pending.

The subcommittee also will advocate legislation allowing tenants to break leases on homes with a notice of sale issued, as well as a law that would require 60 days' notice before a long-term tenant is evicted from a foreclosure property.

The group will submit a bill creating community land trusts to find and acquire property for affordable housing. It also will suggest a law that would use funds from the state's Account for Low-Income Housing to form a central repository for Nevada housing data.

Without the repository, Conklin said, Nevada misses out on federal dollars for affordable housing, because officials can't inventory existing housing supplies and prices according to federal guidelines.


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